Monday, March 9, 2009

The prison nightmare begins

Inmates faced with two in a cell
Prison inmates could soon find themselves forced to share a room, as the Corrections Department talks with staff about putting two beds into every standard prison cell. Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon said the move would add an extra 950 beds to the jail system, covering expected growth in prisoner numbers in the next 18 months.
He said the move - known as double-bunking - would be on top of new prisons, and would be permanent. The extra beds would be added in the four new jails opened in the past four years. Putting two prisoners in each cell has previously been rejected by the Corrections Department as it believed the standard 6.5sq m cell was not suitable for two people. Such close-quarter living had the potential to cause "issues of inmate compatibility and tensions", the department has said. The proposal has horrified criminologist Greg Newbold, who himself spent time in prison. He said the plan would be "disastrous", and lead to increased violence towards inmates and staff. "When you're locked up with someone you can't get away from [or] with someone you may detest, people will explode in that type of environment," Dr Newbold said. "It's the worst thing they can possibly do. It leads to homosexual rape and bullying in cells, and dehumanises the inmate. "Any inmate doing a long term knows the hour you look forward to is lock-up time - time on your own without hindrance from another inmate." Dr Newbold has researched prisons in the US and Australia, where cell-sharing is common. In Louisiana, he observed five-bunk stacking, as well as dormitory-style rooms with 100 to 200 people inside. As well as rapes, stabbings were also common in such environments, he said. "It is a cheap and nasty solution. The beginning of the decline of Corrections in this country."

And the nightmare begins, Simon Powers has baited a frightened and furious electorate by painting prison out to be some sort of plasma TV, underfloor heated adult Disneyland and now has to manage a social policy of hate with a drunk homophobe from ACT who wants to mess around with your bill of rights so he can pass his $30 billion medieval law and order 3 strikes and you’re locked up forever policy. To manage this Simon will import Dick Cheney’s profit driven private prison industrial complex but will still need to double bunk prisoners in a situation horrified criminologist Greg Newbold describes as “disastrous”.

How will prison rape make any prisoner a better human being? How will the demands on an underfunded, corrupt and violent prison system mange to provide any rehabilitation in a public debate now deafened by the shrill scream for vengeance. This prison system will only create more offenders, it will bear a bitter and dreadful harvest.

When social policy becomes warped by hatred, then that system merely exacerbates the damage, If a human being is dehumanized by their experiences inside prison, then that dehumanized human being will only go on to create more damage once they are released.

Reason has failed here, the lynch mob has won.

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